Nov 4, 2014

Kerala style Egg Stew


Hope you all had a fun Diwali and Halloween and now waiting for Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year...well lots to look forward to :-) But this cold weather has numbed my thoughts in the blogging arena. I have tons of recipe all half-written and some posts drafted away with only pictures and I just donno when I'll ever come to posting them. I just can't think of anything to write :-) Apparently for me the easiest part is writing the recipe, atleast that's something. I will share everything all in good time, until then let's just enjoy this creamy Egg stew.

Kerala style stew made with coconut milk is best served with soft spongy Appams. We also enjoy these with Kallapam, plain white/brown Bread or even with Idiappam....ok! my mouth is watering now. Who wants to make me any of these right now...with some stew ofcourse? :-)



I've heard that many people find it difficult to make a perfect hard boiled egg. I've never faced that situation (call it luck or whatever), but my mom taught me a  technique and ever since I've never ever had failed hard-boiled eggs. They get boiled perfectly and are never over-boiled or rubbery. So let's get to the technique for making perfect hard boiled eggs and to the recipe for this awesome Egg stew.

Don't get scared seeing the list of ingredients, its not much but all this together makes the perfect stew and it's just worth it.


Egg Stew with Coconut Milk

You’ll Need
4-5 Hard boiled eggs
1 Carrot (cubed)
1 Potato (cubed)
½ cup Green Peas
1 large Onion (diced)
2 Green chillies (slit lengthwise)
1 Tblsp Ginger (grated or thinly sliced)
1 Tblsp Garlic (grated or thinly sliced)
1 Cinnamon stick
2 Green cardamom
2 Cloves
1 tsp Black peppercorns
2 dry Red Chillies (optional)
1 sprig Curry Leaves (5-8 leaves)
½ tsp Garam masala
½ tsp Corriander powder
2 cups Canned Coconut Milk
1 Tblsp Oil

Directions
How to Hard-boil Eggs
1. Fill a saucepan with cold water and immerse the eggs into the water. The water should be above the level of the eggs.
2. Keep over high flame/heat and bring the water to a boil. When the water comes to a rolling boil, turn off the heat, cover the saucepan with a lid and let the eggs rest for 10mins.
3. After 10 mins drain away the water and gently peel away the egg shell. Keep aside the Hard-boiled eggs.

To prepare Egg stew
1. Heat oil in a pan and sauté the whole spices until fragrant (cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and black pepper, dry red chillies)
2. Add the curry leaves, ginger, garlic, green chillies and onions and sauté until onions are soft.
3. Add potato, carrots, green peas along with 1 cup coconut milk and cook until potato is soft.
4. Turn the heat to low and mix the spice powders (garam masala and coriander powder) with remaining 1 cup coconut milk and add it to the stew.
5. Add the boiled eggs (slit in half if preferred) to the stew and cook on low heat for 5 mins.
Serve it yumm and hot with some Appam or Kallappam or Bread!!!

Notes:
1. I like to add all these veggies when I make stew, you could just make this egg stew with just eggs and potatoes if you like, but I love the added color.
2. Do not brown the onions, just saute until soft and translucent.




I love anything that's cooked in coconut milk and curry leaves, the aroma, the flavor ....everything....yumm. Appam with Egg stew is a common breakfast dish at my home specially over weekends. The stew isn'y overly spicy yet has a lot of flavor. Even lilttle kids enjoy it and yes Lil'Appu eats it with relish! 

Anyways as we are discussing stew today, let me share, we had a Halloween Cook-Off at our office which was a potluck and competition, and I took my favorite Chicken Stew and guess what, I came second in the non-traditional food category...yaaay. Happy Dance!!

-Manju


Oct 21, 2014

Ring Murukku


Indian snacks are always a class apart. And Diwali is the perfect time to make a whole lot of sweet and savoury snacks to share with family and friends. I love trying something new each year. In my previous post I had shared my favorite Chakli recipe made with whole-wheat flour. I’m sharing another quick and simple snack recipe perfect for Diwali and one that you can make even at the last moment, Ring Murukku or murukku with a hole ;-)



These Ring shaped crunchy snacks are to die for.  I absolutely love them and have always until now just bought them from the snack section at the Indian store. With the Diwali fever doing it’s rounds I felt I should try making this at home atleast once and I was very pleased with the results. They turned out super crispy and crunchy. I wanted a slightly savory aka spicy snack so I added a little extra red chilli powder than the recipe called for to the dough and the ring murkku had a good bit of heat and was perfect and just my taste.


They are so easy to make, you don’t need any special equipment, just shape them into small rings and fry until golden brown.


I did not take a lot of step-wise pics but have shared a few that I managed to click. It's not a fun task to take pics while handling flour and oil ;-)

Ring Murukku

You’ll Need
1 cup Rice flour
1 Tblsp Urad dal flour/Moong dal flour  
1 tsp Red chilli powder  
1 Tblsp Sesame seeds     
1/8 tsp Asafoetida            
1 tsp Jeera         
1 cup water 
1 Tblsp Butter     
Salt - as needed
Oil - for deep frying

Directions
1. Make urad dal/moong dal flour – roast a handful of urad dal/moong dal  until mild brown and fragrant, powder it and sieve it and keep aside 1 Tblsp of the powder.

2. Boil 1 cup of water in a non-stick vessel or any vessel. Add butter and salt to the boiling water and then Rice flour and 1 Tblsp Urad dal flour, mix well. Immediately switch off the flame, cover and let the dough cool down. If too sticky then add some more flour. When the dough becomes cool enough to handle, add jeera, red chilli powder, sesame seeds and knead to form a dough.
3. Pinch out small round balls of dough of equal size and roll them into a thin rope and join the ends of the rope to form a ring.



4. Deep fry few per batch in hot oil. While one batch is getting cooked, you can make the next batch. Or make all the rings together and fry little by little. Fry in high flame until the rings are golden brown, but do not let oil fume.



This is a perfect Tea-time snack and is best eaten the day it is made. But if stored in a good air-tight container you can enjoy them for couple more days. So enjoy snacking and have a fun filled and Happy Diwali!

-Manju

Oct 19, 2014

Whole-wheat Chakli / Murukku


It’s Diwali season again, the Festival of Lights! People are all busy cleaning up their homes, buying pretty new clothes and lots of fire-crackers and diyas. Many even draw beautiful Rangoli in front of their homes surrounded by lamps of light (diya). It’s a fun festival, colorful, bright and noisy with all the fire-crackers bursting away….and that’s just how we like to celebrate Diwali.
Oh! and the best part…of course the goodies. So many lovely sweets and snacks are prepared and shared and the preparation starts from few weeks before the big day. Some prefer to just buy the snacks, others prepare them at home themselves…either way it’s a lot of fun.

I have celebrated Diwali in our own small ways after our marriage. I still remember our first Diwali when we were just newly married and living in Chennai. Wanting it to be extra special, I made Besan Laddo, Chakli and Gujiya (karanji), all for the first time, and apart from the chakli getting semi-burnt, the rest all came out fine!!  We decorated the house with lots of light and along with my sis-in-law and bro-in-law (who were also newly married), we burst lots of crackers and had a lot of fun. My sis-in-law’s name is also Manju.
Manju chechi (as I call her) had called us to her home for dinner and she made some amazing Dal kachori, Veg Biriyani, raita and Gulab jamuns that evening and it was just splendid. I remember all this just like it happened yesterday…Nostalgia is a weird thing! :-)

After that our next Diwali’s have all been here at Minneapolis and it has been fun every year. We usually go to the temple and burst crackers there and then have a grand potluck dinner at our friend’s place followed by more bursting of crackers. It’s a festival we eagerly wait for each year. We have been lucky to have friend’s whom we can proudly call next to family and we don’t miss a chance to celebrate any festival.


Last year I made some Ring Murukku and Chakli along with some fusion sweets like Gajar Halwa and turned some of it into Carrot Halwa filled Chocolates and Spiced Mango burfi
I will share the ring murukku recipe soon as well. Apparently it has taken my lazy bones a whole year to share this with you :) I’m yet to decide what to make this year…Lol!

I love crunchy snacks and chakli (murukku) is my favorite of them all. My mom’s elder sister, my velliammachi, used to make the most awesome chakli’s I’ve ever eaten. Infact these don’t come quite close to how she used to make them, but for my first try it came out very decent I should say and they are made with whole wheat flour. 
Well apart from the frying in oil, you can say it’s a bit healthy :-P 

Whole-wheat Chakli / Whole-wheat Murukku
Makes : approx 12-20 chakli depending on size
  

You'll Need
1 cup Wheat flour             
¾ tsp Red chilli powder               
1 ½ tsp Jeera/ ajwain               
1/8 tsp  Asafoetida         
1 tsp hot oil
Salt - as needed
Room temp water - as needed to form the dough
Oil - For deep frying

 Directions
1.  Place the atta powder in a clean white muslin cloth and tie it up like a pouch. Using a steamer or idli vessel , steam cook atta. Cover and Steam cook for 15 mins to 20 mins.


2.  Untie and when it is warm enough to handle, break it roughly and sieve it into another bowl and break any bigger pieces with hands.



3.  Heat oil in kadai, meanwhile you prepare the dough. Add red chilli powder, asafoetida, salt and jeera and a tsp of hot oil and Make dough with water. It should be a stiff yet smooth and non sticky dough. 


I used the star shaped hole plate to make these chakli.


4. Press the dough using the pressing gun and form into a concentric circle shape or coil shape. I pressed in onto my silicon mat (you can use an oiled plate or wax paper to shape the dough onto)



5. Make sure the oil is hot enough and Using a spatula transfer each chakli into the hot oil and deep fry both sides until crisp and golden brown. 
Drain over a paper towel and store in an air-tight container.



Notes:
1.  Never let oil fume at any point, regulate the heat now and then
2.  Make sure water doesn't enter the wheat powder while steaming and once steamed the whole-wheat flour (atta) should look dry and devoid of moisture.

Recipe Source: Rak's Kitchen


Have a fun and safe Diwali!

-Manju

Oct 15, 2014

Chocolate cupcakes with Buttercream Roses to celebrate 3 years of blogging!


Hello to all. It's been since we all met hasn't it? :-) We went for a much needed, month long vacation to Kerala and let me say....we had enormous fun. Our vacation started with a lovely Onam celebration with our whole family. A House boat trip in the back waters of Allepy and a dream visit to Delhi were some of the other highlights of our trip and yes, we saw the Taj Mahal. It's quite an experience I tell you, you have to see the Taj to know its glory. Another major event was a big pooja that my Dad was sponsoring for our home temple - Sarpa Kaavu. An ancient folk dance event called Padayani was performed throughout the night and the entire village came to see it. The program was a huge success and was aired on several TV channels. And best of all our lil'Appu had the best time of all, playing care-free along with his niece lil'Akku to share all the fun, play and kid fights with. In all it was a superb vacation and we are still in hangover mode ;-)

Anyways, it's time to get off my blog-slumber. Today is a special day and the reason why I'm still here. It's our little blog's 3rd b'day. Now that I think of it, my blog and my baby boy are of the same age now ;-) I'm not going to say too much about how much I love blogging and what it means to me....the fact that I'm still here after 3 years says it all.  
If I have you all with me I'll be here sharing more recipes and all kinds of baking joys from my kitchen to yours and your feedback and comments are what keeps me going. 

So Happy 3rd Birthday dear MED :-) 



I love Chocolate Cake and I wanted to try out a really rich and moist chocolate cake. This recipe is perfect in all ways. It's rich, moist and very chocolaty and there's a secret ingredient.....Coffee! Yes, a little coffee adds a huge burst of flavor in this cake. Along with cocoa powder, it also uses fresh bittersweet chocolate, which again adds to it's richness! Yumm! 

It bakes up perfectly and literally perfumes your house with the most amazing chocolaty aroma :-) 



After baking up these beauties I was very much intrigued to try making some buttercream roses, which I've wanted to try for a long time now. So I made a batch of my favorite Vanilla buttercream and tinted them pink and yellow and little bit green for the leaves.

I also tried a dual color tone for the petals which also came out pretty decently. Initially my petals weren't forming properly, but as I continued they started forming and getting in shape. Some of the petals even got a ruffled edge, making it look like a slightly weathered petal. I loved that look. 

I did not get a chance to take any video or step-wise pics while making the roses, mayb next time...but you can find several videos on youtube for this technique.



I'm only sharing the recipe for the Chocolate cupackes here. Both Chocolate and Vanilla buttecream goes very well with these cupcakes. You can find the buttercream recipes here . 


Rich Chocolate Cupcake Recipe
This recipe makes:
24 standard-size cupcakes or
50 mini cupcakes or
Two 8" cakes

You'll need:
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
⅓ cup Cocoa powder
¾ cup hot Coffee
¾ cup All-purpose flour
¾ cup granulated Sugar
½ teaspoon Baking Soda
6 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 Eggs
2 teaspoons White Vinegar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Directions:
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard-size cupcake pan/ mini cupcake pan with liners. Place the chopped chocolate and cocoa powder in a medium bowl. Pour the hot coffee over the mixture and whisk until smooth. Refrigerate mixture for 20 minutes.
2. Whisk together the flour, sugar and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside.
3. Whisk the vegetable oil, eggs, vinegar and vanilla extract into the cooled chocolate mixture until smooth. Add the flour mixture and whisk until smooth.
4. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake pan cups.
If making cupcakes, bake for 9mins and turn over the pan halfway and bake for another 9 mins (total of 18-20mins)
If making mini cupcakes , bake for 5 mins one side and turn pan halfway for another 5 mins (total of 10-12 mins)
5. Cool the cupcakes in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pan and place on the wire rack to cool completely for about 1 hour.

                                     *****************************************

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Makes 3 cups
You’ll need
Unsalted Butter , at room temp – 1 cup (that’s  2sticks or ½ pound)
Powdered sugar or Confectioners’ sugar (sifted) – 3 or 4 cups
Pure Vanilla Extract – 1 tblsp
Milk or heavy cream – 4 tblsp or as needed
Salt – a pinch (optional)
Directions
1.Beat butter until smooth and creamy using a paddle attachment on medium speed if using KitchenAid mixer or using electric hand blender.
2. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar , little at a time on low speed, until it mixes well with the butter.
3. Increase the speed to medium and add Vanilla extract, salt (if using) and 4 tblsp of milk/heavy cream. Combine well for few minutes until smooth and creamy. 
(If you want a thicker frosting add remaining 1 cup sugar. If you want a thinner consistency add more milk 1 tblsp at a time )

                                       *****************************************

For the Buttercream Roses:
Prepare Vanilla Buttercream and divide them to color into desired colors using food grade gel colors. Make sure the buttercream is of a smooth yet stiff consistency to hold it's shape. 
Add the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with Wilton's Rose Piping tip # 125 and make the swirls.  For a final touch add some leaves using a leaf tip.
(You can make the roses on a nail ring or directly pipe the buttercream roses onto the cupcakes)
Refrigerate each cupcake after the roses are placed on top to help them stay in shape.

Recipe Source: adapted from Cooks Illustrated



I shared these with some friends and colleagues and they all loved it.  But best of all my lil'Appu loved them the most. He wanted all the roses and the mini cupcakes were just the right size for him to enjoy! It's so much fun baking for family and friends :-)

-Manju




Aug 28, 2014

Watermelon Mint Lemonade


Summer is slowly winding down and you can just see the changes. The supermarkets have started putting up Fall clothes and accessories, lot of Fall sale going on and Pumpkin recipes are already doing the rounds. But I still have so many more summer recipes to share. eeks...am I too late?

I always take a bunch of pics of almost everything that I cook, specially if making it the first time in the hope that if they come out tasting good then to save the recipe I’ll share it on the blog. But most often than not, they just stay in a folder designated just for my food pics on my laptop, either due to lack of time or because I forgot the recipe or the changing seasons doesn't fit for my particular recipe ;-) Imagine an icecream recipe in deep winters!! But don't be amazed if I do that....

Btw do you want to know the name of that folder where I keep all my food pics…..here goes…...drum rolls.....'Culinary Skills' :-P And its literally a pictorial collection of all my kitchen experiments ever since I started cooking and that would precisely be from December of 2011, the month and year that I got married…Lol! 
I’ve changed from a desktop to laptop and that too two laptops and still I copy this folder and every single pic in it from desktop to laptop to laptop…hehe! More than my family pics I treasure these as it shows exactly how I have grown as a home-cook and shows exactly what all dishes I have tried to make till now. Not all the pics are blog worthy but some of the recipes definitely are, so if I make any of them again, I’ll surely share it here.

Coming back to my summer recipes, here’s another cool and chilled drink that we enjoyed for a small get-together with our friends. We had a bbq potluck party in the middle of a working week…yeah! Thankfully I had planned ahead and did some prep work so that I wouldn't have to run around after coming home from work. I made Margherita Pizza (all from scratch), tandoori chicken and Watermelon Lemonade. My friends brought some veggie burgers and zucchini and we grilled and ate and drank and had fun inspite of having to go to office the next day! All the recipes will be shared soon, which is why I said I have so many more summer recipes to share….


Lemonade being our favorite drink of choice, I decided to make a watermelon lemonade as I had a whole watermelon that I wanted to finish. I flavored the lemonade with mint flavored sugar syrup so it had a very mild yet wonderful mint flavor as well.

My measurements for the lemonade are approximate. I had a medium sized watermelon and used the juice from 3 ripe Meyer lemons. I do not usually add a lot of sugar to my fruit based lemonades as the fruit itself will add sweetness, but again, adjust as per preference. And watermelon being juicy enough I did not add any extra water, so this lemonade’s all pure watermelon juice and lemon juice with the fresh flavor of mint! ;-) This is also a perfect make ahead recipe and drink.


I used up all the mint so had nothing left for garnish :-P


Watermelon Mint Lemonade

You’ll need
1 medium sized Watermelon
3 Meyer lemons
1 cup Mint flavored Sugar-syrup (recipe below)

Mint flavored sugar syrup
1 cup water
1 cups sugar
½ cup or handful bunch of fresh mint leaves
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)


Directions
Make sugar syrup
Boil together water, sugar and mint leaves until the sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat and add 1 tsp vanilla extract if preferred and let the sugar syrup cool down completely. Strain out the mint leaves before using the sugar syrup.

For watermelon lemonade
1. Cut the watermelon into cubes and blend/grind them in a blender. Use a strainer to strain out the juice and discard the pulp. (I strained the watermelon juice twice for a smooth juice)
2. Squeeze out the juice from the lemons and add it to the watermelon juice.
3. Add mint-flavored sugar syrup - as much as preferred. 
(If you prefer more lemon flavor add juice from more lemons)
4. Keep the watermelon lemonade refrigerated until used and serve in a glass filled with ice-cubes for a refreshing, chilled drink!

Note:
1.The taste of any drink is as per taste preference , so feel free to add or reduce the amount of lemon juice or sugar.
2. You can just add plain sugar instead of making the sugar syrup if you prefer. But make sure to stir the drink until the sugar crystals dissolve.


I'll make sure to post all the other 'summer' recipes shortly, but seriously it doesn't have to be summer to make those anyways! 

So just for fun, do you have any kitchen pics or souvenirs that you treasure and shows your kitchen journey till now? Lets chat about it. My comment section is all yours :)

-Manju



Aug 10, 2014

Mango Lemonade


A good refreshing and chilled summer drink is what I love best about summers. I love trying out the new summer drinks that the local coffee shops and juice shops comes up with during summer and I try them all. Manish loves chilled drinks, specially with lots of crushed ice in them. I prefer with less ice, but whichever way it's served, my lil'Appu can gulp them all down ;-) We are a bunch of juice lovers in the house.

Lemonade tops the chart of all our favorite summer drinks. Who doesn't love Lemonade?
I love sweet lemonade, Manish doesn't mind the salty version either. Lemonade brings back so many memories of my college days when on hot and humid days after class, my friends and I would go down to the college canteen and drinks glass after glass of sweetened cold lemonade. It was bliss and we could literally feel the cool drink pass down our throat! 
The first time when Manish and I met also we had a lemonade, so you see it brings back romantic memories as well...have I shared too much? Lol!! ;-) 


Another summer item I'm crazy about are mangoes. I've lots count of how many mangoes we've eaten this summer and I love to see my lil'Appu literally relish it. I have been wanting to try a Mango Lemonade from long and finally decided to make it for lil'Appu's 3 rd birthday party. I made a small batch just enough for myself and Manish and we loved it.

It's so vividly beautiful with that bright sunshine yellow color that the mango pulp imparts to the lemonade and it's sweet yet still very mildly lemony and tart. This lemonade will literally make your tastebuds flow and is so refreshing. It's a perfect summer drink and a pretty one too ;-) 

I don't really measure when I  make lemonade, I just keep adding lemon juice, water and sugar syrup until the taste is just right for me. But I've tried to approximate it to the best I can for this recipe. Feel free to adjust it as per taste.
I like to make a simple sugar syrup while making any fruit drinks. It makes sure there are no undissolved sugar crystals in your drink and any leftovers can be refrigerated and used later on for another drink. 
I often flavor the sugar syrup with either vanilla, mint or orange/lemon rinds for a mild yet pleasant flavor which is imparted to the main drink.


Mango Lemonade

You'll need
2 cups  fresh Lemon juice 
2 cups Mango pulp
6 cups Water
2 cups simple Sugar syrup
Plenty of Ice
Raspberries and Mint leaves for garnish

For sugar syrup
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions
Make simple sugar syrup
In a saucepan, add sugar and water and heat it until sugar completely dissolves. Add vanilla extract and turn off the heat. Allow the sugar syrup to cool.

Mango Lemonade
In a large pitcher, pour the fresh squeezed lemon juice, mango pulp and water.
Add 1 cup sugar syrup and mix well. Stir well and refrigerate for few hours. 
(Taste and add more sugar syrup if needed else more lemon juice/water)
Before serving add ice, garnish with raspberries and mint leaves and serve chilled!

Notes
1.  I've used store-bought sweetened Mango pulp (Swad brand), so I didn't have to use too much sugar syrup as the drink was sweet enough to my taste.
2.  If using fresh mangoes, then peel the mango, scoop out the flesh, grind it into a pulp along with the lemon juice. Strain and add the remaining ingredients. In this case you may need more sugar syrup to balance the sweetness depending upon how sweet the mango is.
3. Try adding sparkling water or club soda for a fizzy drink ;-)
4. You can also add mango cubes in the lemonade along with raspberries. 

I have also made mango lemonade with mint flavored sugar syrup and that tastes awesome too. Add handful of fresh mint leaves while making the sugar syrup and remove the leaves . Use this syrup while making the lemonade.  The aroma and subtle flavor of mint definitely adds a boost of flavor to the lemonade.



For Appu's 3rd b'day party I made a punch  topping the lemonade with some raspberries and ice in a punch bowl. And to go along with the Dino theme, I named it Active Volcano Punch! It was a crowd pleaser and got over so fast, I had to make it again twice during the course of the party. It looked pretty and tasted refreshing and both kids and adults enjoyed it!

I'm sure you'll love this Mango Lemonade as mush as how we do. Try it out and let me also know how you liked it :-)

-Manju